June 2014

Staff Spotlight: Nana Essilfie-Conduah

Nana Essilfie-ConduahNameNana Essilfie-Conduah

Hometown: London, England

Job: Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) – Enterprise Client (Windows Intune) – IW Portal

Years at Microsoft: 1

Favorite restaurant in the Boston area: Fire & Ice

Last thing you Binged: Cortana vs Siri

Something cool you’ve worked on recently: The Intune IW Portal mobile redesign. The portal serves as the web UI and probably the main face that the average Intune customer will interact with. It’s pretty cool, as through the portal users manage their software and devices regardless of which device they access it from.

What inspires you about technology? The ability to take huge problems and visions and make them more easily comprehendible and visualized by the average person. Take simulations and graphical prototyping used in engineering, they go a long way to moving a thought from concept to ready for design or even implementation. Simulations that employ UI’s blow me away personally; the data visually does the speaking for you.

Related Reading: How Microsoft’s Cambridge team helped shape Siri-competitor Cortana via Boston Business Journal

3 Not-To-Miss Events This Week at Microsoft New England

With great weather comes great responsibility – to get outside and walk to cool events!

Here are three not to miss this week:

14029265341) UX Book Club Meeting
Tuesday, June 24, 7:30pm – 8:30pm
Twitter: @uxpaboston

This is the first meeting of the new UX Book Club – Boston. This club is in association with UXPA. This is for UX/UI professionals who wish to learn more, share their thoughts/findings and meet fellow UX-ers. Please sign up via the link below to recieve more info and reminders.

handson 2) Digital Imaging for Nonprofits
Wednesday, June 25, 12:30pm – 3:00pm
Twitter: @HandsOnTechBOS, @KendallPress 

This session will explore the powerful role of photos in marketing and fundraising efforts. Starting with an overview of how photos have typically been used, we’ll transition to sharing several benchmark best practices for accelerating results including how to grow a legion of volunteer helpers before you launch an important initiative.

What to bring:
Attendees should bring examples of one or two successful campaigns and one that may have fallen short of the goals. Attendees will come away with at least one action they can implement immediately.

About Keith Spiro
Keith Spiro is Chief Marketing Officer at Kendall Press with several decades of experience leading successful and profitable sales and marketing campaigns in both the non-profit and commercial sector.

Kendall Press
Kendall Press is a commercial print company providing support to customers in all aspects of business communications. Our mission is to help our customers be successful from concept to production, storage to distribution, we provide custom solutions designed to bring our customers results and success.

agile3) Agile CULTURE Conference
Thursday, June 26, 8:00am – 5:00pm

The Agile CULTURE Conference is your one stop for identifying tools and techniques you can use today to raise levels of engagement, generate innovation, and develop more productivity and FREEDOM AT WORK. You exit this conference with everything you need to know and understand the forces shaping the workplaces of the next century.

The Agile CULTURE Conference is the place for executives, directors, managers, and teams. It’s the place for those who recognize that the CULTURE of your organization is what drives customer engagement, high productivity, and job satisfaction. If you work in a corporation and are looking for tools and techniques to “level up” the culture in your workplace, THIS IS YOUR CONFERENCE.

KSA Third Thursday: STEAM Expo with Microsoft

STEAMMicrosoft is pleased to be hosting the Kendall Square Association’s Third Thursday event tonight, June 19. In partnership with the Cambridge Expanded Learning (EL) STEAM Network, Microsoft New England and the Kendall Square Association will bring people and providers together to collaborate efforts to increase STEAM opportunities for Cambridge youth.  If you’re curious about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) and want to explore what Microsoft is doing, this is an event that you don’t want to miss.

Register for this free event today: http://bit.ly/1jAPUNs

We hope you will join us for an evening of hands-on STEAM activities, displays, and experiments. The following local STEAM organizations will all have booths at the event tonight:

MIT Museum
Through interactive exhibitions, public programs, experimental projects and its renown collections, the MIT Museum showcases the fascinating world of MIT, and inspires people of all ages about the possibilities and opportunities offered by science and technology.

Science Club for Girls
Serving girls in grades K-12 in out-of-school time programming, Science Club for Girls  (SCFG) fosters excitement, confidence and literacy in STEM for girls, particularly from underrepresented communities, by providing free, experiential programs. All programs are run by volunteer mentor scientists who are studying/working in STEM fields and are supported by a dedicated team of SCFG employees.

Mass BioEd Foundation
The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd Foundation), founded in 2001, is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to cultivating the scientific leaders of tomorrow by supporting science and biotechnology education in Massachusetts through school programs, workforce training, and lifelong learning. MassBioEd Foundation’s signature BioTeach program brings cutting-edge biotechnology curriculum, student career exploration experiences, grants for school lab equipment, and teacher professional development and mentorship to 201 high schools across the Commonwealth.

Cambridge Creativity Commons
The mission of CCC is to  engage Cambridge Public School students and teachers in developing their imagination and creativity across disciplines to enrich aesthetic understanding and activate joy of learning through innovative arts-based projects. We are currently shifting our focus to more interdisciplinary projects involving art, technology and science.

GLEAM Celebrates Pride in Boston and Beyond


Photo Cred: Matt Feczko | That’s our own Eric Frackleton, who wore the Halo Spartan suit for the entire parade.

The 44th annual Boston Pride Parade kicked off Saturday, June 14, drawing a record number of people. Over 10,000 people and 200 groups marched from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza led by Gov. Deval Patrick and parade Grand Marshall Mayor Marty Walsh—all decked out and dancing in the streets to celebrate New England’s robust gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. With over half a million in attendance, it was an event to remember.

This year, Microsoft New England had over 40 marchers from our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) team, carrying picket signs, banners, giving out swag, and showing support for the Boston Pride community (especially Eric Frackleton, who wore the Halo Spartan suit the entire time, kudos). We also marched to celebrate the 10th anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts. Yet ultimately, our vision is to transition “Pride” from being an event to being an ongoing celebration of our values of diversity & inclusion.

“This year’s pride was truly a spectacular event for GLEAM. So many people across the globe came together to help make this event happen, from creating consistent branding and marketing materials, to helping put together banners, to scooping ice cream at the wind down, to dozens of people showing up to march (despite the scary weather forecast),” said Matt Feczko, Program Manager and head of GLEAM New England. “I want to thank everyone for helping out with this year’s Pride event, especially my co-marshall Joe Shapiro! Joe, you outdid yourself, so thank you.”

And our pride definitely doesn’t end with the parade! GLEAM and Microsoft have launched a new, inclusive, and globally consistent brand and theme for its LGBT diversity and inclusion work: Honestly Proud, supported by three pillars: Honestly Diverse, Honestly Equal, and Honestly Me. These pillars are coming to life on a global scale, not only during Pride month, but all year long.

Happy Pride Month!

Check out our full Facebook album for more pics of GLEAM at the Boston Pride Parade!


Photo Cred: Emil Cohen (l) & Mary Gray (r)

3 Not-To-Miss Events This Week at Microsoft New England

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 1.54.39 PM

With great weather comes great responsibility – to get outside and walk to cool events!

Here are three not to miss this week:

Analytics_Week1) AnalyticsWeek: AnalyticsJobFair: Analytics Rendezvous Eve
Wednesday, June 18, 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Twitter: @AnalyticsWeek, #AnalyticsJobFair

Join us for an @AnalyticsWeek’s #AnalyticsJobFair evening to strengthen your community bond as well as learn, share and network along-with industry thought-leaders, and exhibitors.
#AnalyticsJobFair, a quarterly event focused on bringing big data analytics practitioners, thought leaders and companies. Event will be filled with networking, thought leadership sessions, raffles and other activities to bring big data analytics communities together.

While we are figuring out the details, please signup for the event. We will promise it is one of the best analytics dipped day you’ve spent in the month.
Tentative Agenda:
17:00 – 20:00 : Exhibit
17:00 – 17:30 : Networking / Registration
17:30 – 18:30 : Keynote
18:30 – 20:30 : Dinner + Networking

If you would like to participate as an exhibit, please contact sachin@analyticsweek.com.

Kendall-Square-Association2) Kendall Square Association Third Thursday – STEAM Expo with Microsoft
Thursday, June 19, 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Twitter: @kendallnow@MSNewEngland, @CambridgeSTEAM

An evening of hands-on STEAM activities, displays, and experiments.  In partnership with the Cambridge Expanded Learning (EL) STEAM NetworkMicrosoft New England will bring people and providers together to collaborate efforts to increase STEAM opportunities for Cambridge youth.  If you’re curious about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) and want to explore what Microsoft is doing, this is an event that you don’t want to miss.

This event hopes to build broad-based, cross-sector and departmental, and community wide collaborative partnerships to create robust learning opportunities.  Register for this event today, featuring display tables with hands-on activities and promotional materials for various organizations taking part and building strong connections within the STEAM network.

codecamp3) Boston Code Camp 21
Saturday, June 21, 8:00am – 6:30pm
Twitter: @BostonCodeCamp, #boscc

Code Camp brings regional software development professionals together for the opportunity to immerse themselves in seminars, presentations, group exploration, and networking.  Participants will be able to engage in their preferred technology, as well as to sample other options, with a focus on extending information exchange and enhancing the cross pollination of ideas.

Microsoft Named Best Place to Work by Boston Business Journal

BBJ2How cool is this?

We are honored to have been recognized last night by the Boston Business Journal as the best large company for which to work in Massachusetts.

It was a wonderful event at the Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston where Transwestern/RBJ was honored as the best small company at which to work, and Florence Electric was named best midsize company.  Congratulations to these winners and to all of this year’s nominees who play an integral role in driving Massachusetts’ innovation economy.

Our workplace culture offers the stability of working at an established, mature company that has impact at global scale with the entrepreneurial spirit of a startup.  We admire individuality and encourage candidates to come as they are and do what they love.

So if you’d like to join us here at the best large company to work for in Massachusetts, we’re hiring!  Please check out the jobs on our web site.   If you’re interested in roles beyond our state’s borders, check out what’s available on our corporate careers page.   As this page suggests, there’s never been a better time to explore your potential with Microsoft.


The Foundry Welcomes 40 Summer Interns


Last week, we welcomed 40 college students to Microsoft New England for their summer internships in our Foundry Program. Entering our third summer in Cambridge, we are thrilled to have this year’s class join us.  These 40 interns hail primarily from local universities – MIT, Harvard, Wellesley, Tufts, Brown, Brandeis, WPI and Dartmouth – but also come from further afield.  Students from UC Berkeley (the other Berklee), Georgia Tech, Princeton, Waterloo and others have travelled to our fair city to join us for the summer.

In addition to the Foundry program here in Cambridge, this summer Microsoft launched another in Vancouver Canada.  Based on the program that we created here at NERD in 2012, the Vancouver Foundry extends our approach to another coast and country.

The Foundry isn’t your average summer internship; Foundry interns build and ship real apps for Microsoft’s most important platforms.  Starting with a simple idea, Foundry teams work together to define and build their app, going from that initial idea to a shipping app by the end of their 12-week internship.  Search for “foundry” in the Windows or Windows Phone store to see apps from previous Foundry sessions.  We’re excited to see what new app the interns dream up this summer!

This summer, Foundry interns will be building Universal apps, the technology that Microsoft announced earlier this year that enables developers to build a single app that targets both Windows and Windows Phone (and Xbox One in the future).  The interns will also be working closely with teams across Microsoft, including Office, Visual Studio, and Azure.

The students will work in teams of five with coaching from Microsoft engineers. The Foundry uses an agile development process, iterating weekly to give interns the chance to get feedback and adjust quickly, as well as lots of opportunities to practice costing and presenting.  The students will also fly to our Redmond campus in July to engage in Microsoft’s Intern Week. In Redmond, students will exchange long hours of developing and designing for a surprise signature event, talks and activities with Microsoft leaders, and insight into how Microsoft employees can have an impact at scale.

The Foundry is part of our commitment to give more students STEM opportunities in Boston. We hope the program will only grow in size and inclusiveness each year, so that many more students can pursue their passions for software, design and change-the-world technology.

Save the Internet / The Internet Saves: Personal Democracy Forum XI


The 11th annual Personal Democracy Forum took place last week in New York City.  It’s truly a special event, designed to bring together a diverse group of people to discuss cutting-edge issues in technology, politics, and civic life. This year’s theme, “Save the Internet / The Internet Saves,” couldn’t have been more appropriate or timely.  For those of us on Microsoft’s Technology and Civic Engagement team, PDF was a chance to meet leaders in civic tech/civic innovation from around the world and to share ideas about building stronger communications channels between citizens and governments, continuing to open up government processes and data, and encouraging innovative solutions to the challenges of a modern city.

Not surprisingly, the implications of Edward’s Snowden’s disclosures about the NSA’s ubiquitous spying program was a dominant theme.  PDF coincided with the one year anniversary of his disclosures, and Snowden addressed the audience via live link from Russia.  He spoke passionately about the need for America to return to its fundamental values, to correct the legal and political misjudgments that had enabled the NSA’s programs.

Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith (@BradSmi) sounded the same theme, noting that in times of great national concern about security, the pendulum has often swung too far, with presidents from John Adams to Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Delano Roosevelt each making decisions in the interests of national security that ultimately conflicted with America’s core principles.  Noting that Microsoft had taken the extraordinary step of suing the federal government over a search warrant seeking customer data located in Ireland, he called for a number of reforms to bring our government’s practices back into line with our fundamental principles, e.g., ending the bulk collection of data, increasing the transparency about the government’s practices, reforming the secret FISA court.  Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of Personal Democracy Media, called Brad’s speech “one of the most spirited defenses of democracy that I’ve ever heard at PDF.”

One other observation from PDF: the widespread recognition of Greater Boston’s leadership in the civic tech community.  In conversations, panel discussions, and even from the main stage, there were notable references to the great civic tech work being done here.  On a panel entitled “Making Civic Tech That Serves Community Needs,” Nigel Jacob of Boston’s New Urban Mechanics made a compelling case that the work of civic technologists and innovators needs to be deeply connected to the community.

Ultimately, the overriding message of PDF was one of hope and optimism.  There is a strong, international community committed to the value of the open Internet and believing in the power of technology to be a force for good.  While there is work to be done to Save the Internet from practices that threaten freedom and openness, the Internet Saves, by providing the place for innovation and collaboration for the greater public good.

For other articles on this topic please visit: The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal.

Event Recap: Tech Hub Legislative Caucus Talks Big Data

big data

Big data. What is it? How can a society use it? And how can government unlock the power of big data for the betterment of its citizens?

These were the questions that the Massachusetts Tech Hub Legislative Caucus discussed last Thursday morning at the State House. Launched last year, the Tech Hub Caucus in the legislature seeks to encourage conversation and collaboration between legislators and tech industry leaders and entrepreneurs, and to discuss the impact of technology on the economy and society of Massachusetts.

More than 110 legislators, staff and a diverse set of technology executives and entrepreneurs attended the standing-room only event at the State House, including Caucus co-chair Senator Karen Spilka. During the event, legislators and business leaders learned about the impacts of the Massachusetts Big Data sector on the economy and workplace.

I represented Microsoft at the event and had the opportunity to talk about a big data pilot we are running, namely in the corrections system. One of the most costly and complex challenges in the public sector space is in corrections. How do we ensure that offenders get the services they need in the justice and corrections system, such that they can re-enter society at the correct time, successfully, with less of a chance for re-offending? The pilot we are running—which leverages our Microsoft AWARE solution—aspires to answer this question.

In this pilot, Microsoft AWARE aggregates data across the diverse agencies related to justice and corrections, including sheriffs’ departments, district attorneys, courts, health and human services, and social service providers. Historical data across these agencies is being aggregated and analyzed—with an eye to the characteristics of individual offenders, jail populations, programs, staff and service providers—to better understand how recidivism can be mitigated.

These diverse sets of data are being pulled together to understand what aspects of the corrections cycle impact an offender’s ability to successfully re-enter society, including programming and timing of that programming. As agencies better understand what programs work for this population to be successful in society, whether that’s GED schooling, medical support, counseling, vocational training or other programs, these agencies can adjust their approach to increase the opportunity for a successful re-integration of offenders into the community.

In terms of impact to the business, this big data solution as found in Microsoft AWARE has two benefits for government:

1. Optimization of resources: through a data-driven approach, an individual can be paired with the programs and care they need, at the time they need it, rather than an ad-hoc approach. This should save resources in terms of service costs, as well as optimize jail space.

2. Decrease in recidivism: Ideally, people are in the corrections system no longer than necessary, as they receive the appropriate set of programs to facilitate a successful re-entry into society.

Big data is still in its earliest implementations—with much still to be understood in terms of its promise, potential and societal implications. The Commonwealth is off to a good start in understanding how big data can best serve its citizens.

3 Not-To-Miss Events This Week at Microsoft New England

With great weather comes great responsibility – to get outside and walk to cool events!

Here are three not to miss this week:

13740838001) Communicating Science (ComSciCon) Workshop 2014 
Thursday, June 12 – Saturday, June 14
Twitter: @ComSciCon

The Communicating Science (ComSciCon) workshop is an opportunity for graduate students in STEM fields from around the country to focus on writing, pedagogy, and visualization skills so they can communicate their work to diverse audiences.  The students join with renowned experts from the worlds of journalism, education, theatre, and more for three days of panel sessions, discussion sessions, and writing workshops.  Our goal is to empower all young scientists and engineers to serve as ambassadors for their field.

ComSciCon is supported by Harvard University, MIT, and the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center.

bigdata2) Microsoft Cognitive Computing
Thursday, June 12, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Twitter: @bostonazure @MSNewEngland

Hi Microsoft Cognitive Computers (MCC),

IBM with Watson and BlueMix has taken the lead in Cognitive Computing (CC). Our goal, as Microsoft experts, is to catch up. This is our first meeting. The room is limited to 40 people and sign-ups will be on a first-quality-come basis. You must pre-register. You must be technical talented.

This is a very, very technical meeting. We are looking for a group to develop an open-source alternative to Watson. Some call this Watson Jr. I prefer to call it Gates.

You must be a programmer to attend. You should have a working knowledge of cognition, NLP, Data Analytics, AI, Decision Support, Adaptive Pages, etc. This task will not be easy. The universal cognitive algorithm is elusive.

CC is coming. It is the next step beyond Big Data. Think of it as “applied Big Data.”

If you believe that applications will become more “cognitive” in the future, come join in our collective efforts to create an open source solution. The goal is to make it better than the Watson BlueMix offering.

I hope to see a great deal of technical CC talent show up!

GLEAM_Twitter_Picture3) 2014 Boston Pride Parade
Saturday, June 14, 11:00am
Twitter: @bostonpride

Did you know that Microsoft is one of the first companies in the world to have offered employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners and to include sexual orientation in its corporate nondiscrimination policy? Our Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) team will be representing at the Boston Pride Parade this weekend!

Via our own Joe Shapiro: “We’re really excited that GLEAM is aligning with the spirit of One Microsoft this year, making Pride a global effort. Our hope is to transition “Pride” from being an event to being an ongoing celebration of diversity & inclusion. For Boston, expect fun and swag with the usual suspects. Also expect a Spartan appearance. Is anyone else thinking #spartanselfie? Yes we did.”

GLEAM launch of Honestly Me – starting now, check out http://aka.ms/HonestlyMe to see a photo reach site with stories and bios of Microsoft GLEAM members.  They will be creating opportunities for you to pariticipate in this site moving forward.  Make sure to keep your eyes pilled for some of the interesting ways the GLEAM team is marketing this around Cambridge!